Independence Day parties are a popular summer activity in the United States. Multiple generations of families often gather together to celebrate our nation’s birth with fireworks, picnic foods, and lawn games. If your family’s elders will be joining you on July Fourth, you’ll want to take a few extra steps to keep them safe and healthy.
Summer Safety Tips for Older Adults
- Create a hydration station: July is often one of the hottest, most humid months of the year. If you are celebrating outdoors, make sure guests have easy access to water and foods that promote hydration. Encourage senior loved ones to avoid or limit caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, as they can have a diuretic effect on the body and increase the risk for dehydration. Set up a hydration station with lemons, oranges, and berries that can be added to water to give it more flavor. Also, include foods that have high water content, such as melon, cucumber, celery, carrots, tomatoes, and leafy greens.
- Protect skin from the sun: During the hustle and bustle of a party, guests might forget to apply or reapply sunscreen. Sunscreen is especially important for older adults. As we age, skin becomes more fragile. This means seniors can experience sunburn quicker. Dermatologists say people should apply the equivalent of one shot glass of sunscreen every two to four hours they are outdoors or riding in a car, and more frequently if they are sweating or swimming. Place bottles of sunscreen and shot glasses in prominent spots throughout the party to serve as a reminder for guests.
- On guard for ticks and mosquitos: The West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease are just a few of the illnesses linked to pests that make their return in the summer. Provide a few cans of strong mosquito repellant for party guests to use when they are outdoors. Also, make sure to check for ticks if you have spent time outside. Ticks are often found in the hair, behind the knees, in and around the ears, and under the arms.
- Encourage sunglasses: Many people think of sunglasses as just a fashion accessory. If you talk with an experienced ophthalmologist, however, they will tell you sunglasses play a much more important role. They help to protect the eyes from a variety of vision issues ranging from cataracts to macular degeneration. Check sunglasses before you purchase them to be sure they have a consumer protection label stating they block 99–100 percent of UVA and UVB rays and 75–90 percent of light.
- Be aware of medication side effects: Some medications common among seniors may increase sun sensitivity. Before the party, review your senior family members’ medication lists to see if any of their medications might put them at higher risk for a sun-related illness. GoodRx has a list of medications linked to sun sensitivity you can reference.
If you are looking for a few new foods to serve at this year’s summer Independence Day celebration, visit our “Senior Eats” page. Here you’ll find recipes ranging from crab cakes to salmon beet salad and blueberry cobbler.
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